I had just finished shopping and was pushing my cart to the car. I assumed the woman walking toward me was planning to do some shopping. So when she stopped and spoke to me, I was a little surprised. She asked if I had some spare change so she could get a bite to eat. I said no. Then she approached the next car. He too said no. I didn’t see which direction she went after the second rejection.
I wondered if she noticed how full my cart was as I said no. I wonder if she realized that I had bought things I needed and then some things I just thought I needed. Oh. She didn’t know the amount of money in my bank account. She didn’t know I had cash in my wallet, but the bills were bigger than I was prepared to hand over to a stranger. Hungry or not, she didn’t get my money. It was reserved for other purposes.
I always feel awkward when a stranger approaches me. I couldn’t lie and say I didn’t have any money. Because I did have a little cash on me. And I knew that a little spare change wouldn’t be enough to feed her. Plus. There’s always that uncertainty that she really needed food. Or did she need a fix? I don’t know. I don’t mean to judge. I’m just always wary about strangers approaching me for money. Oh. There have been times that I’ve shared a few dollars. Just not today.
Did I do the right thing? Was my decision the best one? I have no idea. It’s not that I’m heartless or unkind. I am cautious and concerned. I am suspicious of strangers who walk up to me out of nowhere.
It probably took a lot of courage to walk up to a stranger and ask for money. What if she really was hungry? What if she hadn’t eaten in a few days? She did look a little unkempt. But that could also have been arranged. Just don’t bathe or comb your hair for a few days, and you will start to look different.
God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalms 46:1
I wonder what I would do if I was hungry and needed food but had no money. Would I be bold enough to approach a stranger in the middle of a parking lot? Would I notice their overflowing cart filled with odds and ends? Would I wonder if they were lying when they said they had no spare change? Would I be as kind and considerate as she was when I said no? What if she was an angel unaware and I missed my opportunity to bless her? What if I could have been Jesus to her today and I blew my chance? I’ll never know.
Oh. I may someday know what it’s like to be hungry and penniless. These times sure are getting tougher. Gas prices are high. Food prices are high. Tempers are short. There are wars and rumors of war. Things are unsettled these days. And things could get much worse. So I can’t say I’ll never have days where I have nothing to eat. I can’t say that I’ll never have to wander through parking lots begging for food or money. I can’t say I’ll always be freshly bathed.
I see those people standing on street corners and at the entrance and exit ramps of the freeway. Oh. I see their faces. I read their signs. If I put myself in their shoes, I would probably hand them a few dollars. But more often than not, I try to put them in my shoes. I wonder if they really have money in the bank and just don’t want to work. I wonder if their job is begging on street corners. Is begging a new career option? I wonder where they lay their head at night. I wonder where they store their winter coats in the off season. I wonder if they are starving and when they last ate. I wonder how many people actually give them money. And I wonder, after months on end, why I still see them standing there holding a sign.
Life is full of hard choices. Life is also full of hard knocks. Good decisions aren’t always easy to make. Regardless of which side of the equation you’re on. If you have plenty or if you’re in need. One decision could change the course of a life forever. And it could go either way. No one knows what tomorrow holds. But we know who holds tomorrow. Whether in plenty or in want, we can be content in the Lord’s hands.
We know that our God is always ready and able to help us in our time of need. All we have to do is call on his name. Oh. He may not provide a hot meal at the exact moment we need it. But he may. He may not provide employment when the unemployment checks stop. But he may. He may not heal us from an awful disease. But he may. He may allow us to wait years on end to see an answer to the prayer that we’ve been praying. He may allow us to suffer in pain with no end in sight. Throughout difficulties, he continues to love us. Our suffering may be of our own doing. And it may not. But God is always faithful. His love never fails. And it endures to the end. Even when others ignore us or fail us. God is with us.